When Policy Opportunity is not Enough: College Access and Enrollment Patterns among Texas Percent Plan Eligible Students
Horn, Catherine L.
Flores, Stella M.
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In 1998, Texas initiated a bold new statewide university admission policy aimed at increasing college access for traditionally underserved students in the state. House Bill 588 (known as the Texas Top 10 Percent Plan (TTPP)) guaranteed automatic admission to the college or university of their choice for all top performing students in Texas public high schools. Fourteen years after the plan’s implementation, we see great strides and complexities in understanding student outcomes as a result of the percent plan. However, the legal controversy over the percent plan both in Texas and other states incorporating similar yet distinctly motivated alternative admissions plans continues to play out from institutional decision boards to the highest court in the nation. This study seeks to add to that discussion by exploring two questions. Descriptively, what are the admission and enrollment patterns within racial/ethnic groups of percent plan eligible students, over time, for Texas elite, emergent elite, and remaining public institutions? Given that all eligible percent plan students may enter the institution of choice in Texas, does which type of institution a TTPP student chooses relate to their race/ethnicity? The descriptive story told by the admission and enrollment distributions of equally eligible TTPP students is a complex but compelling one. Fundamentally, it identifies that statistically different application and enrollment patterns exist for Hispanic and especially African American TTPP beneficiaries relative to their White and Asian American counterparts.